AP does not identify Casey Anthony jurors, while local orgs split on revealing names

Although a judge released the names of the Casey Anthony jurors today, it may not be as easy to find them as you’d think. Many of the Florida news organizations most likely to publish their names did not. And two organizations whose stories would have taken the names national — the Associated Press and Patch — also did not publish them.

Though the AP transmitted a list of juror names and a story about the news that the names were released, it did not publish identifying information about jurors.

“The view here is that it’s just a list of names, with no other information, such as ages, hometowns etc. It isn’t newsworthy in itself. But we would include names in stories in the event we interview jurors,” said Paul Colford, the AP’s director of media relations.

About half of the local news organizations that serve Pinellas County, where the jurors live, did not publish the just-released names of the seven women and five men who acquitted Anthony of murder for the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee. In Orlando, where the case was tried, fewer than half published the names.

The jurors’ names were sealed three months ago by Judge Belvin Perry out of concern for their safety. Presumably, the jurors would be most vulnerable where they live, so news organizations that serve Pinellas County (where Poynter is based) would give the greatest consideration to how the names were treated.

When they were released this morning, the names were published almost immediately by Bay News 9, which featured a table with full names, occupations, marital status and number of children for each juror and the alternates. Bay News 9, the Bright House cable news channel, picked up the story from sister station News13. Bay News 9 has since taken the information out of its lead story (it remains in a separate link), and has added this sentence instead: “Some of the jurors may want to speak to the media today. If and when they do, Bay News 9 will release their names to the public and bring you what they have to say.”

WTSP published the jurors’ names, as did TBO.com, the website of WFLA and the Tampa Tribune, which competes with the Poynter-owned St. Petersburg Times.

WTSP News Director Peter Roghaar explains why the CBS affiliate used the names: “This is a public record with local relevance since the jurors were from our area.” However, the station does not plan to broadcast the names over the airwaves. “I don’t expect we will be posting a full list in newscasts, but will use the names on-air in the context of attempting to interview them,” Rohgaar told Poynter’s Al Tompkins by email.

Fox affiliate WTVT did not publish the jurors’ names but said in an editor’s note that “if individual jurors choose to speak to the media, we will do so.”

The local Patch websites, which have the list, did not publish the names either. “Reporters are in the process of contacting  jury members to see if they will tell their stories,” Linda Hersey reports. The Patch story was picked up on Huffington Post (both are part of AOL). If the Patch story had named the jurors, it’s likely those details would have spread online through HuffPost.

Tampabay.com (the website of the St. Petersburg Times) used an AP story that did not include jurors’ names. And ABCactionnews.com relied on a Scripps wire report without the names.

In Orlando, NBC affiliate WESH did not reveal the names; neither did Fox News Orlando or ABC affiliate WFTV, which relied on the AP story that had no names. CBS affiliate WKMG used the AP story (without names), but provided a link to a PDF that identified the jurors.

The Orlando Sentinel did identify the jurors.

Sentinel reporters and a photographer have been knocking on doors throughout Pinellas County today, searching for the jurors. Many knocks went unanswered, and some neighbors said their juror neighbors had left town.

The Sentinel, a Tribune paper, distributed the story with jurors’ names to other Tribune properties, including The Baltimore Sun, and Chicago Tribune.

“Even CNN Headline News’ Nancy Grace, who has railed against Casey Anthony, calling her “Tot Mom” and worse, chose not to use the jurors’ names,” notes Poynter’s Al Tompkins.

Al Tompkins contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: This post originally misidentified The Palm Beach Post as a Tribune newspaper; it is part of the Cox Media Group.

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